Wheaton Warrenville South's Meredith shines in shootout setting
Wheaton Warrenville South senior forward Braylen Meredith picked a good time to produce one of his best games of the season.
Playing against Larkin at the Jim & Sylvia Night of Hoops at Batavia High School on Saturday, Meredith exploded for a game-high 27 points and six rebounds to lead the Tigers to a blowout victory. He torched the nets from beyond the arc, connecting on 6 of his 9 3-point attempts.
With several college-bound players competing in the four-game shootout, the 6-foot-6 Meredith made a big impression with his athleticism and nonstop energy on both ends of the court.
Wheaton Warrenville South coach Mike Healy said Meredith is playing at a high level.
"Braylen has stepped up," Healy said. "He's been our offensive leader the last month and is playing with confidence. But the good thing about him is, he's doing it on both ends. He's doing things on the defensive end, too."
Meredith, who averaged 21.2 points, four rebounds and one block in the Tigers' MLK Tournament earlier this month, credited his breakout season to playing loose on the court.
"I'm just letting the game come to me, and playing with a lot of confidence this month," Meredith said. "I missed the first six games, so I had to get a feel for the game again."
Wheaton Warrenville South's upcoming opponents surely hope Meredith's doesn't continue his upward climb in basketball. A standout wide receiver, Meredith said his basketball game is blossoming, which could affect his college choice.
"Coming into the season, I thought football was my main sport," he said. "But I know I'm just as talented with the rock in my hands as well. Everything is (about) practice and whatever I put my time in, I feel I can be successful in both."
Wheaton Warrenville South heads into the final week of January as one of the top teams in Class 4A. The Tigers (20-2, 8-0) are in first place in the DuKane Conference, but Geneva (19-3, 7-1) is right behind them. The Tigers host Geneva on Friday at 7 p.m.
Meredith said the Tigers deserve to be considered among the top 4A teams in the area.
"I think our team is making a lot of noise but doesn't get the same respect as the other big-name schools around the area," Meredith said. "We're definitely a team to watch in the playoffs, a dark horse team."
Healy said the Tigers are aiming to finish the regular season on a high note to build momentum for the playoffs.
"We're excited for what's coming up, with some big games coming up," Healy said. "I'm real proud of how we've made strides and gotten better. We're blessed we get a lot of multiple sport athletes who like to compete and we work our tails off. They are extremely unselfish and buy-in into everyone. Everyone also plays hard, so we've kind of had that goal for the last few years. Hopefully, that will carry onto next season. I don't know how successful we will be, but I know our guys will play hard."
Collignon shining for the Red Devils:
Hinsdale Central senior forward Chase Collignon is drawing attention due to his solid all-around play this season. The 6-6 Collignon, a Carnegie Melon recruit, is a do-it-all player with athleticism. He forms a solid duo with star senior guard Ben Oosterbaan.
"Chase works hard every day in practice and completely accepts his role," Hinsdale Central coach Nick Latorre said of Collignon. "Some nights we go down to him and he can put up scoring numbers, but he consistently rebounds, plays defense and sets good screens -- all those good things that help us win. He's very unselfish.
"He's improved a ton since his sophomore year on varsity. The thing I love about him is he can guard so many positions. He can guard almost every single position and is willing to do that. He has tremendous versatility on offense and defense. He just goes about his work and never complains and works hard."
A three-year varsity player, Collignon said he's improved leaps and bounds since his sophomore season and happy to play a vital role in Hinsdale Central's season. The Red Devils (20-3, 6-1 West Suburban Silver) host York on Friday night.
"Two years ago, I was on varsity but not playing a lot," Collignon said. "The COVID season gave me time to work on my game and get better. Our team is really special, so it's special to be a key contributor."